Finding the thin line between expanding a community while holding on to it’s hometown environment is something Williamston has found. Through the expansion of its downtown with new apartment buildings and restaurants, the community has still managed to keep its label as a small-town neighborhood.
In 2007, Williamston was introduced to an uncommon kind of art. Fireworks Glass Studios brought the craft of original and customizable glass sculpting to the community, along with love and compassion for its neighbors. Owner, Dave Porter, opened his studio in 2007, getting into the glass blowing business just after retirement. The studio creates various pieces every day, ranging from seasonal glass such as Christmas ornaments and glass pumpkin pieces, to everyday home objects like vases and wall mountings. “I love this job because it’s so much different than the normal office job,” employee Doug Waggott said.
With a population just short of 4,000 residents, and a compact downtown, Williamston’s restaurant industry has decided to make the most of the available space. “Williamston is almost oversaturated with amazing restaurants,” manager of Gracie’s Contemporary Bistro, Emily Brennan said. “Williamston citizens don’t have to leave their city for good food or a great experience, which makes Williamston unique as a small town.”
Brennan said the restaurant thrives off regulars, and more specifically from the Williamston Theatre patrons, creating a crowd for the bistro when the theatre is featuring a movie or play. Being such a small town, employees within the restaurant industry understand the importance of outstanding customer service and pleasing the regulars. “My staff understands that if you don’t give the highest quality service, every time, that our patrons can go on to another restaurant and possibly find that,” Brennan said.
As the warmer seasons come to a close, the Red Cedar Garden Club is just getting started. With monthly educational meetings, and guest speakers, the group of 48 landscaping-loving individuals work towards one goal: taking their gardening abilities and bringing the art of landscaping to the town of Williamston and its residents. “The purpose of the garden club is two-fold, one is to beautify Williamston, so we maintain civic gardens,” Red Cedar Garden Club president, Catherine Ware said. “But the other one is to educate our members and the Williamston public on various topics that would be relevant to gardening.”
Ware said that while most people would believe the main purpose of the gardening club included things such as monthly meetings, that is the minority of events planned. Instead, Ware said that the main purpose of the club was the educate the members, and invite others who are interested in the specific art to come join and learn more about.
After marrying his Thai wife and years of preparing her family’s cultural foods Jeffrey Story settled his family in Williamston, Michigan, and opened the restaurant, Thai Nation Bistro. Thai Nation, a small bistro with history even better than its food, is located in a small town right outside the capital of Michigan. In 2016, Story and his wife, Jin, brought the original taste of Thailand to the residents of Williamston. “Immediately when you walk in, you can tell the legitimacy of this cultural restaurant,” customer, Amanda Bur
gess, said, “Not only do the decorations resemble that, but things like their website or the menu as well.”
Posted within the restaurant’s website are photos of the owner and his wife with family friends, dressed in authentic Thai clothing, along with various Thai translations of popular words. While both parents of Jin are chefs and Story grew up in the Flint, MI restaurant business, according to Story opening a restaurant was the last career move he wanted to make.